On 29 March 2018, the FinancialTimes and its English website and Chinese website published asigned article by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming entitled “Europe and China must uniteagainst protectionism”. The full text is as follows:
2018年3月29日，英国《金融时报》纸质版、网络版和该报中文网刊登驻英国大使刘晓明题为《欧洲和中国应共同反对贸易保护主义》的署名文章，全文如下： Europe and China Must Unite Against Protectionism 欧洲和中国应共同反对贸易保护主义
The recent protectionist measures by the US administrationare dangerous and risk triggering a trade war and hampering global growth. Theworld is at a crossroads between co-operation and confrontation. This is acritical time when the international community should be upholding the globaltrading system.
At the centre of this system is the World Trade Organization,which was established in 1995 by the international community in pursuit ofopen, fair and equitable trade following nine rounds of multilateral tradenegotiation to reduce trade barriers. With 164 members that account for over 95per cent of global trade, the WTO has become a major platform for trade issues.There has been a dramatic reduction in average tariffs applied by WTO members,and global trade in goods has quadrupled over the past 20 years. Trade hasbecome a driving force for global growth and trade liberalisation is now aninternational consensus. Despite new challenges, this body is capable of reformand overhauling itself in order to cement its position as the centrepiece ofthe multilateral trading system.
This will be key to warding off the potential disaster oftrade protectionism.
Throughout the history of international trade, protectionismhas been a spectre stalking the world. The Smoot-Hawley Act of1930 was adopted to protect US businesses and jobs and to increase governmentrevenue by raising tariffs on imported goods. It led to a wave of internationalretaliation and an exacerbation of the Great Depression. In 1933, US grossdomestic product plunged by 45 per cent compared with 1929, and the contributionof trade to GDP dropped from 11 per cent to 6.6 per cent. History is a mirror.Last week the US government announced new protectionist measures against China,resulting in the S&P 500 losing well over $1tn in market value. The impactwas also felt by the European and Asian markets. There is no need for historyto repeat itself only for us to learn the straightforward lesson that there isno winner in a trade war.
China has been the powerhouse for global growth and a maincontributor to an open world economy in recent years. Since becoming a WTOmember in 2001, China has cut average tariffs from 15.3 per cent to 9.8 percent, removed over 50 access restrictions on the manufacturing sector andopened about 120 sectors of the service industry to different degrees. It isnow the largest trading partner of 124 countries and one of the top threemarkets for goods from 54 WTO members.
At the 19th Communist Party Congress, China reiterated itscommitment to opening up on all fronts and building a community with a sharedfuture for mankind. It has undergone four decades of effective reform andopening-up and will continue to do so in the next 40 years. As President Xi Jinpingsaid, “China will not close its doors to the world; we will only become moreand more open.” This determination arises from China’s strong belief thatopenness brings progress, while seclusion leaves a country behind.
The UK and Europe have been advocates of trade liberalisationand firm supporters of the multilateral system of trade. The leaders of the UK,France and Germany have expressed their concerns over US protectionism andstressed that WTO rules should be the basis for solving trade disputes. Thisclearly points to shared interests for China and Europe in safeguarding themultilateral trade regime.
There is a saying in Europe that “a single tree cannot blockthe chilly wind”. Only if the UK, Europe and China stand shoulder to shoulder,will they be able to uphold openness and co-operation, and safeguard theinternational trade regime from the dangers of protectionism.